M. Night Shyamalan’s best twists – ranked!

The acclaimed director's WTF curveballs from weakest to WTF-est

He’s mischievous, isn’t he, that Manoj Nelliyattu “M. Night” Shyamalan, leading us all down one particular road, only to have us stumble onto a rug and then swiftly pull that rug from underneath us, leaving us all grazed and discombobulated. With his new movie Old out now – promising to be one of his most intense works yet – we thought we’d give you fair warning by ramping up the tension with a countdown of his legendary twists, from the weakest to the what-the-fuck-est. Obviously, there are spoilers ahead… or are there? The twist might be that there aren’t spoilers… but there are spoilers.

9. The Happening (2008)

Not only the worst plot twist, but definitely the worst film. The concept, as far as it goes, sort of works – plants have got a touch pissed off with the way human beings have been treating the planet, and decide to take revenge in the form of making people harm themselves… so far, so meh. But the twist? The twist comes when Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel decide to surrender, head outside and… the plants have just stopped doing it. Did they get bored? Was there something good on the telly? I guess we’ll never know.

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WTF Rating: Like thinking you’ve forgotten your keys and then finding you haven’t forgotten your keys.

8. Lady In The Water (2006)

Well, it’s a stupid premise for a start. A landlord played by Paul Giamatti finds a water nymph in his building’s pool (he should have put the cover over it), and rescues her from a wolf of some sort. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?  It is revealed that the nymph escaped from a fantasy world created by an author (played by Shyamalan), in order to find him and ask him to write a better future for her world. Still with us? If so, why?

WTF Rating: People protesting lockdown once lockdown had ended.

7. Signs (2002)

Oh good, here comes Mel Gibson, the eternal voice of reason. Having seen what The Sixth Sense did for Bruce Willis, he signed up for this thriller which explores the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. It’s quite brooding, atmospheric, and, well, good for the first two thirds, but once we find out that the aliens’ Achilles heel is water (much like cats), it is underwhelming, and brings up the question – why visit a planet that’s 71 per cent water? Silly aliens.

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WTF Rating: Piers Morgan flouncing off GMB.

6. Split (2016)

The year this movie was released was basically a whole plot twist in itself, which may have diminished the shock factor somewhat. As franchises had started to take a stranglehold on Hollywood however, with a cinematic universe for every studio, it was refreshing that MNS kept secret and waited ‘til the end of the movie to inform the audience that Split was in fact a sort of sequel – long-awaited by some – to Unbreakable.

WTF Rating: Jessica Raine’s character being pushed out of the window in Line of Duty.

5. Glass (2019)

Sarah Paulson, especially recently, isn’t particularly well known for playing ‘nice’ characters. However, working knowledge of this was not enough to prepare us for the fact that her character, Dr Staple, is killing people with superpowers. It’s a twist that would have been satisfying if any sort of crumb trail had been laid – as it was, it felt tacked on because a plot twist was needed. Still surprising though.

WTF Rating: East 17’s Brian Harvey running himself over after overindulging on jacket potatoes.

4. The Village (2004)

After spending two hours thinking the big bads are unseen monsters terrorising a 19th century Pennsylvania village, we find out that, in true Orwellian fashion, the village elders have been using a fabricated unseen, outside, threat to oppress their residents. The village is in fact very much in the 21st century, cordoned off from the outside world. The entire narrative is geared towards this twist, and although it’s an entirely watchable movie, you won’t need to watch it again.

WTF Rating: ‘Jesus is King’ by Kanye West.

3. Unbreakable (2000)

Good twist, but underwhelmingly executed. The pre-marketing campaign for this flick was all about the mystery twist, but when it came, it was – y’know – fine.  Perhaps too much build-up was to blame, but when Samuel L Jackson’s supposed mentor character, Dr Glass, is revealed as the puppet master of all the destruction we, and Bruce Willis’s David Dunn, have witnessed, it lacks a gut punch, especially as it’s revealed in a sort of epilogue.

WTF Rating: Trump winning the 2016 US election.

2. The Visit (2015)

Imagine that famous painting American Gothic come to life.  This low-budget, indie-feeling return to form ramps up the creepiness nicely… and for some reason, it’s always creepier when there are kids involved, right? The children in question have increasingly unnerving experiences with their grandparents who they’ve gone to stay with, only to discover… they’re not their grandparents, but just your usual run-of-the-mill escaped murderous psychiatric patients. Jumpy as.

WTF Rating: Tony finally ‘dealing’ with Chris in The Sopranos.

1. The Sixth Sense (1999) 

The real twist in this feature should have been that we didn’t choose an MNS movie as No.1 and went with Moon or Fight Club instead. But no, it had to be this brilliant piece of cinema really, didn’t it – one of the most famous twists in movie history. Usefully, it was also pre-everyone-on-the-internet, so audiences were genuinely letting out a collective gasp when it transpired Bruce Willis’s Dr Malcom Crowe was one of the dead people Hayley Joel Osment’s character could see.

WTF Rating: The guy who shoved nine Crème Eggs up his bum.

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